Thursday, January 12, 2012

Feelin' Down Over DLC

The infamous Mr. Karate
Think back to a time before Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were the heavy hitters of the home video game console industry, while the once-mighty Nintendo amuses fewer and fewer fans with its parlor tricks. Now go back even further, past the PS2 era and the original Xbox Live. If someone had told you then that you could download extra features for your existing games for a few dollars, you’d probably have been pretty psyched; I would have been too.

Now hop on Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. We’ve all become used to how downloadable content (DLC)  is bundled and sold, but try to look at it from the point of view of your old self. You check on Street Fighter IV content and instead of new characters and stages, you see that it’s $3.99 for four or five ho-hum alternate outfits. Then you find out that characters for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 were made and put on the disc, but cost $4.99 each to play.

I bet your old self is pretty disappointed right about now.

Earlier this week, a character called Mr. Karate was released for King of Fighters XIII for $4.99. He’s a minor variation of a normal, you-got-him-already-when-you-bought-the-game character. Mr. Karate is also a 6 kilobyte download, which mean’s he’s already on the disc but is being held for ransom by SNK-Playmore. It’s not content that was made at a later date, which one could consider a true add-on; it’s content that was made from the get-go with the intention of chagrining you for it later.

If Mr. Karate were $1 or $2, I’d have been excited and picked him up. But even from the perspective of this longtime King of Fighters fan, Mr. Karate is not worth $4.99.

Businesses are out to make money and no one is forced to purchase DLC. Capcom, SNK-Playmore and every other gaming company has the right do what they want with their intellectual properties. But if they don’t start using DLC in more creative, interesting ways – or at least start pricing things more reasonably – fewer and fewer players are going to purchase it.

The best DLC is what you probably would have come up with when you were younger: New levels or another campaign to kill an afternoon with, like Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare add-on; not a freaking hat for Ryu that costs more than a bottle of cheap wine.

Like I said before, companies are out to make money. Speak with your wallet and eventually they’ll eventually get the picture. Example: I purchased all of the alternate costumes for the Street Fighter IV series. It was a waste of money to be sure, but as a Street Fighter fanatic, it’s what I wanted.

Later on, there were a whole slew of new costumes for another $3.99 a pop – this time requiring a large download, meaning that the content was truly new. So what would have happened if guys like me hadn’t dropped the dough for the first set of new duds?

From now on, unless they’re substantial or at least reasonably priced, no more add-ons for me.

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